About 15 km south of Delhi, in Mehrauli, this 238 feet and 1 inch high Minar has been referred to as "one of the wonders of world". This soaring tower of victory was built immediately after the defeat of the last Hindu Kingdom in Delhi. Qutb-ud-din Aibak laid its foundation in 1200 A.D. Iltutmish added three more storeys. After damaged by lightning in 1368 A.D. Firuz Shah Tughlaq rebuilt the fourth story, added the fifth and a harp shaped cupola. A doorway in each storey opens to its own balcony. As of now, upper storeys are closed for visitors, yet its a treat to watch this magnificent travelmasti monument. Quwwat-ul-Islam Masjid, Iron Pillar and Alai Gateway are worth having a look.
This is age old pillar standing in the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Isam mosque has withstood the test of time (weather) for over 1500 years. This 2 ft high Pillar is a solid shaft of wrought iron and as per a Sanskrit inscription was erected outside a Vishnu temple, possibly in Bihar in the memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (375-413 A.D.). It is said that if someone standing with his/her back to pillar encircle it with his/her arms, his/her wish will be granted.
Built in almost 20 years (1639-1648), by the Mughal monarch
Shahjahan, who shifted his capital from Agra to Delhi had a great significance in historical delhi. Built at a cost of Rs 100 lakhs, this imposing building in redstone has its walls that vary in height from 18 m on river (Yamuna) side to 33 m on the city side. Of the two gates, Lahore Gate and Delhi Gate, the former facing the Chandni Chowk is more imposing. The Lahore Gate faces to Lahore (now in Pakistan) and gives access to Chhatta Chowk (the vaulted arcade). Of the prime attractions in the fort are Diwan-i-Am (the Hall of Public Audiences), Diwan-I-Khas (the Hall of Private Audiences), Royal Baths, Shahi Burj, Moti Masjid (built by Aurangzeb in 1659), Khas Mahal, Rang Mahal, Mumtaz Mahal and Svatantrata Sangram Sangrahalaya. It was in the Diwan-i-Am, wherein a marble dias is said to have supported the famous Peacock throne of Shahajahan which was valued at some six million sterling and alas (!) was taken away by Nadir Shah when he looted Delhi in 1739.
Do check about the timings of a Sound and Light show, held every evening.
India Gate (All India War Memorial)
This 42 metre high, free standing arch, designed by Lutyens and founded on February 10 1921 by the Duke of Connaught, commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who died during World War I. "Amar Jawan Jyoti", another memorial, added under the arch in 1971 is the nation's tribute to Indian Jawans, who laid their lives during Indo-Pak War of 1971. The names of the demised soul (soldiers) are inscribed all along the walls of the arch.
Old Fort (Purana Qila)Historical Places
Constructed on the historical site of Indraprastha by Mughal emperor Humayun and Sher Shah, the fort has a circuit of about a mile. Rectangular in shape, it houses the famous Sher Mandal and Qila-i-Kohna Mosque, built by Sher Shah. Earlier, it was Humayun (1538-1545) who rebuilt Indraprastha and renamed it as Dinpanalh, while Sher Shah who had defeated Humayun named it Shergarh. Sher Mandal, a two storeyed octagonal tower was used by Humayun as library, from where he slipped from its steep stairs and died. Among other attractions are a small archaeological museum, a zoo and a sound and light show held every evening.
Of the five astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Sing
h II of Jaipur (1699-1743), Jantar Mantar, at Delhi is one of them. (Others were erected at Ujjain, Varanasi, Jaipur and Mathura) Built in 1724, it contains six masonary instruments, the largest one Samrat Yantra (Supreme Instrument) is like a sun dial. Built for observing the movements of the stars and the planets, through these Yantras one can known about the shortest and the longest day of the year, days of the week, months, time and other astronomical data.
Humayun's Tomb Built in 1565 AD by Haji Begum, the Persian born senior wife of Humayun, this tomb is an important landmark in the history of Indian architecture. Its uniqueness lies in the introduction of certain Persian features, viz the bulbous double dome and surrounding formal gardens. Held as "an Indian interpretation of a Persian conception", this tomb is the general dormitory of so many distinguished personalities of the Mughal dynasty, like Haji Begum, trunk of Dara Shikoh (Shahjahan's son) emperor Jahandar Shah and Frarruksiyar as well as Humayun's barber.
Birla HouseIt's the place where Mahatma Gandhi was assasinated on January 30,1948. A three foot tall stone memorial has been erected at the site. Moreover, Delete scenes from the Mahatma's life have been painted on the walls and ceilings of the nearby red sandstone portion.
Parliament HouseDesigned by Sir Herbert Baker, its foundation was laid by the Duke of Connaught in 1921 and completed in just five years. Located near the Central Secretariat, this marvellous piece of architecture can be admired only from outside due to security reasons. With a diameter of 125 yards and a height of 75 ft.
SiriThe city of Siri was founded by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1304. Located about 5 km to the north of Qutab Minar, the city is in complete ruins now. However even the remains of few ancient structures and a Baradari in Shahpur Jat is worth having a look.
TughluqabadLying at a distance of about 8 km from Qutab Minar, this third city of Delhi was the site for Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq's (1320) capital, Tughlaqabad. The fort with 13 gateways is located on one of the highest spins of the Ridge. One of the most remarkable ruins in Delhi it has a circuit of about four miles, and is noted for its massive grandeur and sturdy vigour.
Jama MasjidThe largest mosque in India, was built by the great Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. Begun in 1644 and completed finally in 1658 at a cost of ten lakhs of rupees, it has three gateways, four angle towers and two 40 m high minarets. Situated on a rocky eminence in Old Delhi on the other side of road to the Red Fort. One of the finest Specimen of Mughal structure, its notable features are its bold treatment in red sandstone inlaid with black and white marble, spacious courts, massive pillars supporting engrailled arches, elegant bulbous domes - all well proportioned with decorative manipulation. Spend some time here for some serious travelmasti pleasures.
Alai DarwazaThe main entrance to the Qutab Minar complex, the Alai Darwaza, was built of red sandstone, by Ala-ud-din Khilji in 1311 A.D. at the southern gate. Considered as a gem of Indo-Islamic structure, this structure made of red sandstone and marble was considered as 'the most beautiful specimen of Pathan architecture' by Commingham.
Ashok PillarsFiruz Shah Tughlaq brought two Ashokan Pillars from Topara (near Ambala) and Meerut. One was installed at the Firuz Shah Kotla and the other at the ridge. The one at the ridge was broken and then restored and reinstalled on the ridge near the Hindu Rao Hospital.
Amir Khusro's TombOne of the most famous poet of Sufi tradition, Khusro lies buried here in the Dargah of Nizamuddin Auliya. Quwwalis and mushairas are held on his annual urs or celebration of death. Music and literature quite dear to Khusro, constitute the most significant feature of his urs that attracts hordes.
Dargah of Nizam-ud-din AuliyaVisited by lakhs of devout pilgrims, the Dargah contains a fine mosque known as Khizan Mosque (a landmark of early Indo-Muslim architectural peculiarities of the Khiljis and Tughlaqs. This Dargah of Nizam-ud-din, fourth in line of the Chisti saints of which Khawaja Muin-ud-din Chisti of Ajmer was the founder, has in its precincts buried famous men and women, including Ghalib, Amir Khusro, Jahanara Begum (daughter of Shahjahan) and emperor Muhammad Shjah.
Dargah of Khwaja Qutab-ud-din Bakhtiyar KakiA disciple of Khwaja Chisti of Ajmer, a great Chisti saint of India and a contemporary of Iltutmish, lies buried Bakhtiya Kaki near Qutab Minar in Mehrauli. This structure, the oldest in Delhi and located near the Qutab Minar, was a favourite with later Mughal emperors as their resting place. Phoolwalon ki Sair is a great occasion to be here for travelmasti.
Ghalib's Tomb & AcademyMirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib the legendary Urdu poet of Delhi lies buried in a superbly chiselled marble tomb. Designed by the famous architect of Hyderabad. Nawab Jang Bahadur, this tomb is located in Nizamuddin area. In 1969, a Ghalib Academy was established nearby, to perpetuate his memory and works.
Firoz Shah KotlaFiroz Shah Tughlaq, founded the city of Firuzabad, the fifth city of Delhi, in 1354 AD. It's ruins still remain. Originally, it contained eight mosques, three palaces, a hunting box and several inns. However, not much is left now, except some palace walls, remains of a mosque Jama Masjid and the Ashoka Pillar brought from Topara (Ambala). Rest of the ruins were used for the construction of later cities.
Central Secretariat Designed by Herbert Baker and completed in 1929-30, the north and south Secretariat buildings on the either side of Rajpath are among the greatest office buildings in the world. Each block is surrounded by a dome which is 217 ft. high from the lowest level. Housing the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of External Affairs, these buildings have the best features of modern English School of Architecture as well as more delicate of the traditional Indian forms.
Lodhi Tomb (Lodhi Gardens)The tombs of Sikandar Lodhi and some others, viz Mohammad Shah (1450). Mubarak Shah (1433) and Ibrahim Lodhi (1526), are located here. The architecture visible here is simple and anstere. Among the other attractions are well kept gardens, Shish Gumbad and Bara Gumbad. The latter was built by Sikander Shah Lodhi in 1494 A.D. and is noted for its lofty dome.
Mughal GardensThe Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhawan are a treat for the eyes and open to the public during certain periods of the year. Designed by W R Mustoe, its a fine blend of Mughal and English styles. Small flowering trees, ornamental trees, intricate system of fountains, water channels and tanks are the special features of the garden.
Rashtrapati BhawanAbout 400 yards behind the Central Secretariat building lies Lutyen's magisterial Indo-Baroque Rashtrapati Bhavan. Occupying a prominent position opposite the India Gate, this majestic palace once was Viceroy's Palace, but is now the official residence of India's President. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1923, it has an area of over 2,10,430 sq ft. One of the largest palaces of the world, it is noted for its courts, stairways and apartments, a Great Durbar Hall and a magnificent dome. With 340 rooms, this structure costed over eight million pounds and can be visited only by special permission.